Now sure, being a coach on “The Voice” looks easy. All you have to do is sit there in a chair that looks like a carnival ride, listen to some people sing, hit a button if you like that person’s sound and then tell that performer how great he or she is. However, there are five particular skills one needs to master in order to earn that chair. Here’s a look at how each of the coaches – Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine – fared in the five categories during Week Three of the blind auditions.
At this point in the competition, honesty is not necessarily the best policy for all the coaches. After all, they’re putting through way more singers than they are saying no to. This is the time to offer up as much praise as possible to a) lure the performers you turn your chair for onto your team and b) get all the niceness out of your system before the hard choices come once those teams are picked.
So when it came to being the most up front with the contestants, Adam continued to be the winner by a longshot. The best example? Telling office worker Katrina Parker that she had some rocky moments throughout her performance yet still picking her. Meanwhile, Christina at least surrendered her role as honorary mom by not praising every single person who traipsed through. She also went after Katrina, saying that she “wasn’t feeling it,” and even confessed that “we’re all being more guarded and picky” after watching the stunning Jordis Unga bring down the house with a soul shredding version of “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
Blake, on the other hand, went totally the other direction with his honest gushing to Jordis that she made him “want to push myself as a performer.” Now sure, that sounded like the load of “bullcrap” he’s accused the others of shoveling, but seeing how it took him all of about five seconds to push his button for her, there’s little doubt he was telling the truth. (A skill that is not necessarily a plus in the music business, by the way.) Blake also proved to be the most respectful coach of the evening with his handling of Boston mechanic James Massone. Watching this soul singer break down in tears upon finishing “Find Your Love” and seeing three chairs turned for him was a very sweet moment, and Blake was very thoughtful in offering respect to the kid for “waiting till the end to fall apart.”
Cee Lo’s honesty has nothing to do with his critiques of the contestants. He’s always nice to them. No, his truth-telling comes whenever he’s confronted with a female contestant. He flirts with them all, whether they’re ex-models like Erin Martin or folkies like Sarah Golden (and NBC, what’s the deal with hiding how she looks from viewers too? A clever move, sure, but I was waiting for a bigger payoff…like she had three eyes or something).
This may be my favorite part of the entire show, watching to see what sort of flourish each coach has when hitting his or her button. Blake was by far the best in this category this week. No wonder he’s a Western singer. He’s so quick on the draw, he’d have made a good gunfighter. Adam and Christina have much more of a dramatic flair. With Katrina, Adam had his head down as if he was either meditating on the sound of her voice or he’d passed out. And when 51-year-old Geoff McBride powered through a Stevie Wonder-ful version of “Higher Ground,” Christina seemed to be massaging the button before suddenly slamming it down. It was as sneaky as his performance was strong.
Then there was Cee Lo, who could make doing his taxes seem cool, acting all laid back with his light touch on the button for 27-year-old white boy soul-ster Chris Cauley. Who, by the way, wins points of his own not just for his gritty, grinding vocals on “Grenade” but for his suggestion that the coaches arm wrestle for his services. That didn’t happen, but perhaps a game of Twister might be in order next time more than one coach turns around.
Here’s another beautiful thing about “The Voice.” The coaches can be kind and mannerly with the contestants but with each other, they put each other down as if they’re frat boys all vying to go home with the same woman they met at a bar. (Although Adam and Cee Lo were disappointingly kind to their fellow panelists this week.) It’s vastly entertaining to listen to them mock one another and the better the talent, the more intense the mockery. Take Pip, for instance. All four coaches turned their chairs for this 19-year-old kid in a bow tie and suspenders, whose bar band growl on “House Of the Rising Sun” was completely at odds with his high school glee club looks.
There was Blake, chiding Christina for sleeping till noon and not being able to give Pip her full attention. And then there was Christina, putting Adam down by mentioning she “did have success before Maroon 5 came along.” The best insult of the night, though? That was clearly Blake letting Golden know after she sang “You And I” that she shouldn’t go with Cee Lo because “a lot of people don’t realize he’s asleep during the show. That’s why he wears those sunglasses.” That’s why Blake was the best insulter this week. First of all, the put-down must have worked because Sarah signed up for his team. And second….his remark about Cee Lo actually makes a lot of sense. This would explain why he often sounds like he’s in the middle of a dream the rest of us can’t even imagine when he’s talking to the singers.
Everyone showed a distinct style here. It’s a tough call to say who was better in Week 3 at basking in the glow of snagging new team members. Adam certainly had the most manic energy, like when he bounced all over his chair and kept grinning at Katrina like some sort of happy stalker. Blake was the most visual, preferring to taunt the others by either pointing a finger over his own head to lure a singer’s attention or pointing two fingers at them when he wins. (Which he did in full force after landing the night’s biggest prize, the intense yet exotic Jordis.) Christina’s celebration was to stay seated, raise her arms and do an upper-half shimmy. Which she seems to do no matter she wins or loses, actually, so now I’m wondering if this is celebrating or it just means she needs a bathroom break.
It was Cee Lo, though, who showed the most user friendly method for letting singers know he’s happy to have been chosen. Ex-model Erin is a good case in point. When he turned to get a good look at her singing “Hey There Delilah,” he started biting his lip and the sucked on his pinky finger. That was followed by lines like, “You’re a beautiful creature of a woman” and “Quite naturally, you belong to me.” Finally, after she selected him, he walked her off stage. It’s that kind of personal attention that can make him a valuable coach by the time the season ends. Or simply learn him a restraining order.
This category had but one winner. Actually, it had only one contestant. Cee Lo. Once again, he had that freaky cat with him. It’s starting to look more and more like some evil character in an animated Disney movie, just lying in wait to find new and more devious ways to torture mice. Plus, now Cee Lo is even starting to talk to the thing, bragging to it about how Erin was “given to me.” There’s a lot of good-natured competition amongst these four coaches but when it comes to bringing pets onto the stage, it seems unlikely that anyone will even challenge Cee Lo here. It’s way too soon to say who the winning coach will be over all but if Cee Lo handles his singers with the same care and attention he gives that cat, he’s got to be the odds-on favorite.